Hearing is seeing: writing for audio-described film

07 Mar 2018

4 mins
Hearing is seeing: writing for audio-described film

Our ongoing series of Industry Visits, which brings film industry talent into schools across the UK, saw Veronika Hyks, Head of Audio Description at BTI Studios, visiting young people at Lent Rise Primary School in Slough. Audio description (AD) is the verbal description of film images to support the experience of visually impaired audiences.

Creating AD narratives provides a wonderful opportunity for descriptive writing in the classroom or as part of an Into Film Club. Using literacy techniques during a practical workshop, Veronika encouraged the children at Lent Primary to encourage them to write their own descriptions, using a clip from Disney's Frozen.

Keeping their eyes closed, the children were asked to listen to the dialogue and sounds used in the clip, and imagined what the experience might be like to someone who is visually impaired. They then had a go at writing their own audio descriptions, using descriptive words and thinking about how tense could be used. Veronika tasked the children with reading their own descriptions out loud alongside the clip, helping them to think about rhythm and pace, and using the sounds and dialogue to bring the clip to life. Watch the video above to see how they got on, and to hear Veronika discuss audio-description in her own words.

It was great to see the children so engaged with the whole concept of audio description and the way they found such expressive words to describe the scene. I hope we have helped them gain an understanding of inclusivity and the challenges that children like themselves may face if they are visually impaired.

Veronika Hyks, Head of Audio Description at BTI Studios

As a direct link to key literacy and creative writing skills, give your young people the chance to engage with their favourite films in a new way that will inspire and build confidence in their writing and speaking and listening skills.

Learning Sequence Suggestion

  1. Sound on / vision off: Get your young people to listen to the dialogue and sounds used in a film clip of your choice.
  2. Predictions: Ask pupils to predict what is happening. As well as an excellent listening activity, this gives pupils the opportunity to empathise with a visually impaired experience.
  3. Reveal: Play the original clip revealing visuals with audio.
  4. Write: Using key-words and writing frameworks appropriate to your group, ask pupils to write an audio description for the film scene.
  5. Perform: Play the original clip while your young people read their audio descriptions. This is excellent for thinking about rhythm, timing and pace.
Veronika Hyks visiting Lent Rise Primary School
Veronika Hyks discussing audio description at Lent Rise Primary School, Slough

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